Farming in the Extreme—Animal Management in Late Medieval and Early Modern Northern Finland

Maria Lahtinen and Anna-Kaisa Salmi

Abstract

Agrarian activity clearly intensified in northern Finland from the 14th century onwards. This climatically marginal area was one of the northernmost locations for farming during the studied period. This study contributes to understanding the development and local adaptions in agriculture in the Late Medieval and Early Modern (ca. 1400–1700 AD) period northern Finland through zooarchaeological and stable isotope data. We analyze the faunal assemblages and stable isotope composition (δ13C and δ15N) of domestic ungulate bones from four archaeological sites representing urban and agrarian settlements. The results show that animal husbandry concentrated on cattle husbandry and secondary products. Local natural resources were utilized in varying ways to support domestic animals. Animal management was integrated into a mixed subsistence pattern of hunting, fishing, livestock husbandry, and crop cultivation. Animal-management practices were well adapted to the local natural resources and climatic conditions and had a relatively low impact on the landscape.

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